The 2016 Australian Open winnowed the field down to a final eight as the second week of the two-week event began. Action on Monday night from Melbourne in the men’s draw saw Andy Murray advance in straight sets through Bernard Tomic while Milos Raonic advanced in a five-setter over Stan Wawrinka. Both of those winning players are into the quarterfinals along with the six other players still alive in the tournament.
Among those players is Frenchman Gael Monfils, the lowest-ranked player into the final eight at the 2016 Australian Open. He has made the quarterfinal of a Grand Slam on a handful of previous occasions. Most recently, Monfils made the quarters of the 2014 US Open, a match that he painfully lost to Federer after holding double-match point. However, 2016 marks the first time that Monfils has made the quarters down under as he is the sole survivor in what was Nadal’s eighth of the draw. Monfils will face Raonic, and both players have one Grand Slam semifinal appearance in their pasts.
Murray has picked up David Ferrer in the other quarterfinal on the bottom half of the draw. Ferrer himself was a straight-sets winner on Monday night from Melbourne Park, defeating John Isner routinely.
Aged 33 years old and without a Grand Slam title on his resume, Ferrer’s opportunities seem to be fading. But he has to be relishing the chance to make the Melbourne Park final without having to face either Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer ahead of the championship match. Ferrer has defeated Murray in a third of their head-to-head meetings. However, many of those victories are now dated. The Murray/Ferrer quarterfinal is not quite an open match, but the diminutive Spaniard has a better chance of making the final on the Scot’s side of the draw than if he was on the other side.
The Ferrer/Murray and Raonic/Monfils quarters will be played on Day 10 from the 2016 Australian Open. However, Day 9 will feature the top half’s quarterfinals. Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych will meet to close out the afternoon session, following Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams. Then Novak Djokovic will open the evening session with an anticipated match against Kei Nishikori.
Neither Berdych nor Nishikori are favored to win on Day 9. However, both players have advanced in Grand Slams before through the opponents that are directly ahead of them. Nishikori eliminated Djokovic from the 2014 US Open draw while Berdych eliminated Federer from both the 2012 US Open and Wimbledon 2010.
All things considered, the most likely semifinal matchups are Murray versus Raonic and Djokovic versus Federer. That would seem to suggest a Murray versus Djokovic showdown once again down under, with Djokovic winning the previous three.